By ELINANDO B. CINCO
Is the government reviving a criminal violation of merely talking against the New Society in the early 1970s? Remember the crime of rumor mongering?
I recall the Metrocom having a field day bundling up violators to Camp Crame by the truckloads in the early months of the martial law regime.
Why am I saying this?
Many are disturbed by their observation that there seems to be an apparent indication that an age-old idiom – “Afraid of his own shadow” – is haunting some government officials.
Somehow the average man in the street has a term for it – paranoid.
Believe it or not, immigration bureau men harassed two foreigners by labelling them “undesirable aliens” late last week and last Monday. Their transgression – they expressed the personal feeling that many Filipinos have been deprived of their human rights.
There’s no denying that the two events landed on the front pages of overseas newspapers and flashed on primetime TV news hours a few days following their detention.
These incidents are minus factors of the Philippine image-building efforts. They torpedoed the already bright economic conditions of the country, and our intensive investment and tourism gains.
My hunch why these two events happened was because of a previous presidential outburst. A pattern may have been created either by an implied directive or by sheer desire to show an enthusiastic obedience to an order.
You see, a week ago the President was widely quoted by media as threatening to arrest International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda once she sets foot in the country. Earlier, she had announced she would be coming to the Philippines to begin her preliminary examination of the charges of EJKs against President Duterte and others.
That is the “pattern” some people are trying to establish. It was also the bell that pealed as a signal to detain and eventually deport Italian Giacomo Filibeck, and the arrest of Sor Patricia Fox, an Australian nun.
Upon invitation by the Akbayan Party Congress, Filibeck first came to the country in October last year. He was a member of a group of European politicians that conducted a fact-finding mission here.
In one meeting, he reportedly criticized the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the administration and denounced the “extra-judicial killings” attributed to that campaign.
Last Sunday he was barred entry when he arrived at Mactan International Airport in Cebu, and deported the same day. No amount of protest rallies staged by Makabayan Bloc congressmen could rescind the BID’s decision.
Immigration head Jaime Morente answered the protesters, in part: “We cannot allow the entry of foreigners who have shown disrespect to our duly constituted authorities by meddling and interfering in our internal affairs as a sovereign nation.”
The issue against Sister Patricia who heads the Notre Dame-Our Lady of Sion religious congregation stemmed from reports that she has engaged in political and anti-government activities in the past.
The BID ordered her release from detention as the flagrante violation of immigration laws did not apply to her, and she showed her valid passport. The 71-year-old religious nun has been doing missionary work in the Philippines for the past 27 years.
Anyway, these double-whammy events did not deter many Filipinos from rejoicing over the winning of a Pulitzer Prize award in international news reporting of Manuel Mogato, sharing the distinction with two other colleagues in Reuters Manila Bureau.
Ironically, their winning accolade was a series of articles on the bloody illegal drug campaign of the administration.
Mogato is the fifth Filipino to win a Pulitzer Prize. The first was the late Carlos P. Romulo for international news correspondence in 1942. Second was Alex Tizon for investigative reporting in a series of articles that appeared in Seattle Times in 1997. Third was Jose Antonio Vargas for a series of articles that appeared in Washington Post in 2008. And, fourth was Cheryl Diaz Meyer for photography in The Dallas Morning News in 2018.